Celebrating the Rule 1223-2023

All members of the Franciscan Family profess a Rule that becomes a pattern of life and consists in observing the Gospel. As we celebrate the Later Rule, we are reminded that for Francis of Assisi, the nucleus of his Rule was the Gospel, as he stated in his Testament: “The Most High Himself revealed to me that I should live according to the pattern of the Holy Gospel. And I had this written down simply and in a few words and the Lord Pope confirmed it for me” (Testament 1415, FF 116). Having listened prayerfully to the words of Jesus Christ, Francis and his first brothers exclaimed: “This is what we want; this is what we were seeking.’ And blessed Francis said: ‘This will be our rule’” (The Anonymous of Perugia11, FF1497). 

No member of the Franciscan Family professes his own Rule privately, because he is called to live the Gospel in fraternity. It is important to remember that Francis composed the Later Ruleat a time in his life when he was dealing with a lot of tension and crises at the fraternal level, but he never renounced the prophetic vision of living as a brother to all and he invites us to do the same. Today the Church, in promoting its synodal and communal dimensions, points to Francis of Assisi as a model of fraternity, calling him the “saint of fraternal love” (Fratelli tutti 2). His words and deeds can again, after eight hundred years, illuminate the path of an ecclesial community that seeks to become an outgoing, synodal Church, listening to all, in solidarity with the least, bearing the good news that has the power to fill the lives of those who accept it with joy and meaning (cf. Evangelii gaudium 21).

Celebrating the Later Rule as a Franciscan Family gives us an opportunity to get to know each other better. It promotes communion and fosters mutual trust among ourselves. It lets us rediscover the importance of dreaming together, it opens new evangelical paths that help us become a more open and outgoing fraternity, a fraternity that can generate a new culture of encounter and social friendship, a fraternity that strives to reach out to all members of society, “each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all” (Fratelli tutti 8).